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Bike Accidents

Guy DiMartino April 19, 2022

Guy S. DiMartino at Guy DiMartino Law rides his bike 1000s of miles each year. He has represented victims of bike and trike accidents in Indiana and Florida.

In Indiana, an injured bicyclist or the loved ones of a bicyclist who loses their life in a bicycle accident can bring a case if it is found that the driver, their employer or the property owner that caused the crash was negligent or acted unreasonably. In Indiana, "negligence" is the failure to do something which a reasonably careful person would do, or the doing of something which a reasonably careful person would not do, under similar circumstances. Most often bicycle crashes happen when reasonable practices or laws are broken.

A Dooring Bicycle Accident

A dooring happens when a driver or passenger in a vehicle opens their door into the path of an oncoming bicyclist. It is unreasonable for a person to open a car or truck door without first looking to see if a bike, moped, or pedestrian is coming up from behind.

Right Hook Bicycle Accidents

A Right Hook crash occurs when the bicyclist is riding on the right side of the roadway and a motor vehicle drives past the bicyclist and decides to make a right hand turn right in front of the bike. Commonly associated with right hook bike accidents is when the driver who is passing the bicyclist cuts it close and the bicyclist is hit by the side view mirror. This happens more frequently with pickups and vans with the larger side view mirrors.

Left Hook Bike Crashes

A Left Hook accident happens when the bicyclist and the motor vehicle are traveling towards each other in opposite directions and the motorist turns left in front of the oncoming bicyclist. Generally, the law requires a driver to make a left hand turn when there is a safe interval in traffic. Left Hooks bike accidents are common in congested areas and on rural roads because the driver looks right through or passed the bicyclist.

Vehicles Entering Roadway

Drivers who are exiting a strip mall, side road, alley, driveway, parking lot or other entrance into a roadway are required to yield to a bicyclist who is riding down that roadway. Again, these bike accidents occur because the driver of the vehicle is looking at traffic and looks right through or past the bicyclist. This is why it is very important for the bicyclist to wear a bright shirt and make eye contact with the driver when approaching these areas.

Collisions With Trucks

Commercial Trucks, like delivery trucks and semi-tractor trailers, have specific rules and regulations that apply that are enforced in Indiana and federal law. Drivers of commercial trucks are professional, and as a professional driver they are required to drive the utmost care. These drivers are typically required to carry a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). These rules and regulations exist in federal law to help keep bicyclists and other motorists safe. For instance, 49 C.F.R. Section 383.111 of the Code of Federal Regulations requires a professional driver to recognize and avoid potential hazards at all times.

Sideswipe Bike Accidents

Drivers of motor vehicles should leave at least 3-feet when passing a bicyclist on the roadway. This rule of the road is what is commonly referred to as the "3-Foot Rule" and is unfortunately a common reason for bike accidents. Remember, when we talk about reasonableness, the driver of a vehicle is required to maintain a safe distance when passing a bike, pedestrian or other vehicle.

Crosswalk Bike Accidents

In Indiana, motor vehicles are required to wait for the intersection to clear when bikes and pedestrians are crossing within a crosswalk. A car, even with a green light, has to make sure the area is clear of other motor vehicles, bicycles or pedestrians when they travel through the intersection.

Hit & Run Bicycle Accidents

Drivers involved in a bicycle accident or other accident are to render aid to an injured bicyclist, pedestrian or motor vehicle occupant. It is reasonable that a driver of a car or truck involved in a crash resulting in personal injury or death of any person shall stop their vehicle at the scene of the accident and render aid if necessary.

Uninsured and Underinsured Cases

Indiana law requires automobile insurance companies to offer what is known as underinsured motorist coverage (UM) and uninsured motorist coverage (UIM). Every bicyclist should carry UM and UIM insurance coverage. The Insurance Research Council estimates that more than 1 in 8 motorists are driving uninsured or underinsured. Unlike liability insurance coverage which is provided by a driver's insurance company, underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage is provided by the bike owner’s insurance company. UIM comes into play when the at-fault driver only has a small amount of insurance, and the insurance limit isn’t enough to cover the injuries and damages. UM coverage comes into play when the at-fault driver had no insurance or when he left the scene of the accident and cannot be found. These types of insurance are typically available when the bicyclist also owns a car that has UM and UIM or lives in a household where another family member has this insurance coverage.

Pothole and Premises Liability Cases

A majority of bicycle accidents involve a car and a truck. However, another common cause of these accidents is when the bicyclist loses control of their bike because of a defect on a roadway, sidewalk or other property. These types of bike accidents are classified as premises liability. If the property owner is the government (state, city or town) it is very difficult to bring a cause of action, however, if the property owner is private, the bicyclist may be able to bring a claim against the property owner because of the dangerous condition. These types of cases need to be evaluated as soon as possible because there are strict time limits required to give notice to governmental or municipal property owners.

Bike Accidents Because of Defects with the Bicycle

If there is a problem with the bicycle itself, like the failure of the frame that led to the bike accident, the injured cyclist may have a products liability claim under Indiana law. In Indiana, an injured cyclist may bring a claim under the doctrine of strict product liability, if he can show 2 elements: (1) a defect existed that made the product dangerous; and (2) the problem existed at the time the product left the manufacturer's control, and the condition was the primary cause of the rider's injury. In legal terms, there was a problem with the bike or trike when it entered the stream of commerce. Again, product liability cases need to be investigated immediately and it is important to retain the bike so it can be evaluated by an engineer.

Well, there you have it. Bicycle crashes can be caused by a whole host of events. The most important thing that an injured cyclist can do after the incident is contact an experienced bike accident lawyer to at least get some advice on whether there is a claim and the steps to take.

If you have any questions about an Indiana bicycle accident call Guy DiMartino Law at (219) 300-6209.